Everything you need to know about getting an arboricultural survey for a planning application.

An arboricultural survey: a vital part of the design process.

When planning any development project in the vicinity of existing trees, conducting a comprehensive arboricultural survey is an essential first step to understanding site constraints. These specialised surveys, performed by certified arborists, are crucial for identifying potential tree-related constraints and minimising the impact of construction activities on valuable tree specimens.

A BS 5837 Arboricultural Survey is a meticulous tree surveying process that follows the guidelines outlined in the British Standard “Trees in Relation to Design, Demolition and Construction to Construction – Recommendations” (BS 5837) (2012). During the survey, each tree within 15m of the proposed development (unless otherwise specified by a Local Authority) is thoroughly assessed, with data collected on various aspects such as species, age, dimensions, structural condition, physiological health, and assigned retention category.

The findings of the arboricultural survey are then compiled into a detailed report, accompanied by a Tree Constraints Plan. This plan visually represents the Root Protection Areas (RPAs) of the surveyed trees, highlighting those that could be retained or removed based on their condition.


Root assessment at St Albans Cathedral

Armed with the information from the arboricultural survey, developers and architects can make informed decisions about the project design and construction methods. Experienced arboricultural consultants can provide expert guidance on minimising the impact on retained trees, recommending design modifications, construction techniques, and mitigation strategies where trees are to be removed.

Where planning permission is required and there are trees present on the development site, a comprehensive arboricultural survey report can significantly increase the likelihood of obtaining approval from local authorities. The report demonstrates a thorough understanding of the site’s tree constraints and a commitment to responsible development practices.

Furthermore, the data collected during the arboricultural survey serves as the foundation for additional tree-related documentation, such as the Arboricultural Impact Assessment (AIA) and Arboricultural Method Statements (AMS), which may later be required by the Local Authority to determine the application or requested as a condition of planning consent.

Arboricultural Method Statement

By investing in a professional arboricultural survey at the outset of a development project, stakeholders can ensure compliance with industry standards, safeguard important green infrastructure throughout the design phase and minimise the risk of costly delays. An excellent consultancy process seeks to minimise negative impacts on trees whilst realising the site’s full potential. 

To find out more about each of the survey components – have a look at the pages linked in the text above or check out our Frequently Asked Questions about getting a BS 5837 Survey page. 

If you wish to discuss a development project you are working on please call our friendly team of tree experts on 08000 141 330.

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